Population decline

From Academic Kids

In demographics population decline is a fall in a region's population. It can be caused by sub-replacement fertility or heavy emigration, or more dramatically disease, famine, or war. Or most often by a combination of the factors.

In the past population decline was mostly observed due to disease. The Black Death in Europe, the arrival of Old World diseases to the Americas, or the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), all caused massive population declines.

Today it is emigration and especially sub-replacement fertility rates that are causing population decline. Only a few nations today are experiencing population decline, the most notable ones being Russia and Ukraine but if current trends continue much of the developed world will see declining populations in the next century.

The effects of a declining population are bad for an economy, but fewer humans have a smaller impact on the environment. Declining population does have many problems, but they are not nearly as disastrous as the potential of overpopulation.

Economically declining populations lead to deflation, which has a number of harmful effects. Average standard of living, at least in terms of material possessions, will tend to rise as the ratio of land and resources per person will be higher. The period immediately after the Black Death, for instance, was one of great prosperity, as many had inheritances from many different family members. A declining population due to demographics also will be accompanied by population ageing which has many problems for a society. The decade long economic malaise of Japan is often linked to these demographic problems. The worst case scenario is underpopulation where the population falls to too low a level to support the current economic system.

A smaller national population can also have geo-strategic effects, but the correlation between population and power is a loose one.

External links

  • Brief review of world basic demographic trends (http://gsociology.icaap.org/report/demsum.html) Includes tables showing slowing of world and regional population growth, and lists a number of countries that lost population over the last several decades.
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